Tatarstan Airlines Flight 363 was a scheduled domestic passenger flight operated by Tatarstan Airlines on behalf of Ak Bars Aero from Moscow to Kazan, Russia. On 17 November 2013, at 7:20 p.m. local time (UTC+4), the aircraft operating this flight, a Boeing 737-500, crashed at Kazan International Airport while attempting to land, killing all 44 passengers and 6 crew members on board. The crash resulted in the temporary closure of the airport. The airport's CCTV camera caught the flight crashing into the ground and exploding.
The aircraft involved was a Boeing 737-53A bearing registration number VQ-BBN, which had been in service for more than 23 years and which had been operated by seven airlines in total. Owned by AWAS from delivery on (Boeing customer code 3A represents AWAS), it was leased to Euralair (1990 to 1992, registered F-GGML), Air France (1992 to 1995, still as F-GGML), Uganda Airlines (1995 to 1999, registered 5X-USM), Rio Sul (2000 to 2005, registered PT-SSI), Blue Air (2005 to 2008, registered YR-BAB), Bulgaria Air (several months in 2008, registered LZ-BOY), and Tatarstan Airlines (late 2008 until it crashed).
The airframe had been involved in two prior incidents. While in service with Rio Sul, on 17 December 2001, the aircraft crashed about 70 metres (230 ft) short of the runway while landing at Tancredo Neves International Airport under adverse weather conditions, damaging its landing gear. However, none of the 108 passengers and crew on board the plane at the time died. On 26 November 2012, the aircraft was forced to make an emergency landing in Kazan due to problems with cabin depressurization shortly after take off.
Whilst on final approach to Kazan International Airport, the crew initiated a go-around due to an unstable approach but crashed onto the runway in a 75-degree-nose-down attitude, at a speed of 242 knots (448 km/h) moments later and exploded upon impact with the ground. A second explosion occurred 40 seconds after impact. The crash was caught on one of the airport's surveillance cameras. All 44 passengers and 6 crew members aboard were killed; there were no casualties on the ground. High winds and cloudy conditions were reported at the airport at the time of the crash.
The full list of the passengers and crew was published by the Ministry of Emergency Situations. Among the deaths were Irek Minnikhanov, son of Tatarstan president Rustam Minnikhanov, as well as the head of Tatarstan's Federal Security Service regional office, Aleksandr Antonov.
The Interstate Aviation Committee (IAC) launched an investigation into the crash and arrived at the site on 18 November. Both flight recorders, the flight data recorder (FDR) and the cockpit voice recorder (CVR), were recovered from the wreckage on the same day. The Tatarstan Transport Prosecution Office has opened a criminal investigation into the crash. The American National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) dispatched a team of investigators to the crash site.
On 19 November, Aksan Giniyatullin, the director of Tatarstan Airlines, declared that although the cockpit crew was experienced, the captain of the airliner may have lacked experience performing a go-around maneuver. Moments before the crash the pilot informed the control tower that the aircraft was not properly configured for landing and initiated a go-around, before plunging into the ground as if it had stalled. Investigators said the possible causes of the accident included technical malfunction as well as pilot error.
The Investigation Board of IAC reported the following details after recovering some information from the flight data recorder:
«Tatarstan Airlines Boeing 737-500 accident Technical Investigation Board of IAC informs about preliminary results of flight data recorder information recovery.
During landing the crew could not perform a nominal approach according to the pattern defined by the regulating documentation. Having considered the aircraft is not lined-up properly relative to the runway, the crew reported to the ATC and started to go around using TOGA (Take Off / Go Around) detent. One of the two autopilots, which was active during landing, has been switched off and the flight was being controlled manually.
The engines reached thrust level close to full. The crew retracted the flaps from 30° to 15° position.
Affected by the upturn moment generated by the engine thrust, the aircraft has started ascent, reaching the pitch angle of about 25°. Indicated airspeed has started to decrease. The crew retracted the landing gear. Since initiating the Go Around maneuver up to this moment the crew did not perform control actions through the yoke.
After the airspeed decreased from 150 to 125 KIAS the crew started control actions through the yoke, pitching nose down, which has lead to stopping ascent then starting descent and increase of the airspeed. Maximum angles of attack have not exceeded operational limits during the flight.
After reaching the altitude of 700 meters, the aircraft started a steep nosedive, with the pitch angle reaching −75° by the end of the flight (end of the recording).
The aircraft collided with terrain at high speed (exceeding 450 km/h) and with highly negative pitch angle.
About 45 seconds have passed between the moment of starting Go Around maneuver and the moment the recording stopped, the descent took about 20 seconds.
The propulsion systems were operating up to the collision with terrain. No single commands detected by the preliminary analysis, which would indicate failures of systems or units of the aircraft or engines.»